While the losing train at the major league level is now at 8 out of 9, the minor league affiliates keep plugging away with mixed results. Iowa, Tennessee, and Myrtle Beach are slumping while South Bend and Eugene thunder away in first place. Here are 10 things that have crossed my mind about the Cubs’ system in the past week.
1. Baseball America and Baseball Prospectus released their mid season prospect lists this week. It is no surprise that the Cubs had three prospects in the top 50 in each list. Gleyber Torres, Ian Happ, and Eloy Jimenez did well in each ranking. For BP, Eloy drew the 28th spot, Gleyber 34, and Happ number 50. Conversely Baseball America ranked Torres at 27, Happ 37,, and Eloy was at number 46. I am not surprised to see Eloy so high based upon the year he is having. I think in a year from now the Cubs could have 5 to 6 names on the lists. Dylan Cease, Carlos Sepulveda, Bryan Hudson, and Eddy Martinez could develop a lot between now and then.
2. Injuries and Promotions – Duane Underwood left the game this week and no word has come about concerning his injury. It is a little mysterious and that is usually the case with minor-league injuries. It doesn’t look like Ryan Williams of AAA Iowa will be pitching much the rest of the season. He came back and threw less than an inning before being pulled. It looks like there will not be any promotion of starting pitchers throughout the organization. Each team has moved someone from the bullpen to fill in. Even Preston Morrison, who is the hottest picture in the system, seems like he will stay in South Bend.
3. The Cubs pulled off a signing coup d’état by inking 19 year-old Delvin Zinn to a contract. Zinn was the 23rd round pick of the Cubs in the 2016 draft. I didn’t think the Cubs had a chance of signing him and it wasn’t until the Cubs 12th and 14th round picks decided that they were going back to college that Zinn was signed. I love his is athleticism and it looks like he could be in Eugene very soon.
4. While the 2016–17 international free agency season began, the Cubs have not announced any signings. Legally, the Cubs cannot sign any player for over $300,000 and are limited to a $2 million pool for all the players they do sign. Last year, most signings were not announced until early fall and I would expect the same this year.
5. I will be traveling to Clinton, Iowa on Wednesday and Thursday this week to see South Bend play. I am pretty excited about the trip. I just hope they don’t promote anybody before I get to see them play. I’m really excited about, of course, Eloy, but also Eddy Martinez, Donnie Dewees, Carlos Sepulveda, Tyler Alamo, and Andrew Monasterio. I am also looking forward to watching PJ Higgins catch/throw and to see the pitching staff in action over the two nights. I will have a report and a lot of pictures here on Cubs Central.
6. The Dominican Summer League is also in full swing. While one team, DSL 1, struggles, the other, DSL 2, thrives. They are very young teams and I think most position players are going to take two years to develop before they come north of the border, On the other hand, the odds are in favor of some pretty good pitchers making it long before then. Remember the names Faustino Carrera and Hector Garcia. As for position players, only catcher Miguel Amaya and outfielder Abraham Rodriguez are lighting up the box scores.
7. If you haven’t gotten to see the Eugene Emeralds play then you are in for a treat. After South Bend I think they are the second best team in the system when it comes to talent and excitement. They have six young starting pitchers who are learning how to pitch against better competition and are having some success doing so. While Dylan Cease and Bryan Hudson have not been perfect, they have been pretty good so far. 1B/OF Chris Pieters and Matt Rose have been leading the way. Rose has 4 HRs and is hitting .292.
8. This fall, the Cubs have 78 players eligible for the Rule Five Draft. Some of those 78 will find their way onto the 40 man roster, while others will be exposed to the draft. I would not be surprised to see several big name prospects not covered or not placed on the 40 man roster. After 5, 6. Or 7 years in the system, they haven’t made it to the major leagues and are struggling at AA Tennessee. That pretty much seals their fate. However, many of them might be back next year as some MLB teams won’t take the risk. Overall, I think the Cubs might only add 3-4 players to the 40 and the names could surprise you. Two names that come to mind are relievers Jose Rosario and Pedro Araujo who have been outstanding in 2016.
9. Now that Tom Hatch has officially signed, I think most of the pitching prospects in the draft will begin play within the next week to 10 days. I think it’s going to be interesting to see where they are placed in the system. It wouldn’t surprise me to see Hatch as high as class A South Bend. 10th round pick, Dakota Mekkes, is another player I could see being placed high because of his NCAA experience. However, I think the Cubs may see what he can do as a starter next year. The most interesting placement of the pitchers is that of fourth round pick Tyson Miller out of Division II Cal-Baptist. He could be anywhere from Arizona to South Bend.
10. It’s hard for me to believe that there are less than two months left in the minor league season. Next thing you know, the playoffs will be here followed by fall instructs and the Arizona Fall League. It’s been a very quick season.